Berkhamsted SC enjoy a great night in Peanuts League

Berkhamsted Swimming Club's youngsters before the Peanuts League meet at Hemel at the weekend.
Berkhamsted Swimming Club's youngsters before the Peanuts League meet at Hemel at the weekend.

Berkhamsted Swimming Club had an amazing night at Hemel Hempstead on Saturday for the latest round of the Peanuts League, picking up a third-place finish overall, alongside a host of personal bests (PBs) and 30 youngsters enjoying themselves.

The exciting night of racing will probably be enough to see Berkhamsted SC in the promotion gala for the final round next month.

A total of 23 PBs were secured in the individual races, backed up five individual wins, three first-place finishes in the relays and eight lead-off leg PBs.

Swimmer of the night awards went to Jess Cutler for the girls and Alessandro Partridge for the boys and it was Cutler who got the night off to a terrific start with victory in the opening 10-year-old freestyle event with a PB of 16.68, storming through to lead from halfway after a slow start.

Hugo Verstringhe, in his first competitive race, finished fourth for the boys in 20.06.

In the first half of the gala there were also wins for Eva Lawson, Ronan Philbin (12-years backstroke) and Phoebe Goss (11-years backstroke).

Lawson, fresh from her final in the IAPs butterfly at the London Aquatic Centre, was streets ahead in her 11-years 50m freestyle, closing on the 30-second barrier in 30.83.

Goss only found out she was swimming on Saturday and stormed home to take 10 seconds off her PB in 42.40, while Philbin replaced Eric Batt, who was taken sick at the gala, at the last minute, cruising home in 41.18 for his own PB.

Mia Maslen-Wollington (12-years breaststroke, 2nd, 42.72); Bea Miller (nine-years freestyle, 3rd, 21.53), Partridge in his first ever race (nine-years freestyle, 4th, 20.68), Alana Van Deventer (10-years fly, 4th, 23.14), Austin Clements (10-years fly, 3rd, 23.18) and Darshan McGregor (11-years 50m freestyle, 3rd, 38.20) all set PBs in the first half of the gala, while Emma Hockney looked strong when finishing second (39.12) in the 12-years 50m backstroke.

The nine-year-old boys and girls had to be disqualified in their relays as the club could only put out three swimmers due to sickness but using over-age swimmers allowed them to still take part in the races.

Ten-year-olds Katie Hockney, at her first gala, and 12-year-old Eze Svichla-Fekete joined Miller, Lucy Franklin and Sophie Davies for the girls, and Will Franklin, Partridge and Jack Eastaff for the boys in the freestyle relays.

Cutler set another PB in the backstroke lead-off for the 10-years girls, joined by Saya Khalili, Van Deventer and Olivia Bridgeman, while Noah Przygrodzki led off Will Franklin -- swimming up an age group -- Celments and Verstringhe for the boys’ medley relays.

Then Emily Jones, Issy Whitaker, Goss and Lawson came home well clear (1:03.56) for victory in their 11-years freestyle relay, while Rocco Addati, William Barnes, McGregor and Corner teamed for the boys in third place.

Maslen-Wollington set a PB for her lead-off backstroke leg to Chrissy Soulsby, Kate Hopper and Emma Hockney combining for second spot in the 12-years medley relay, as did McGregor, swimming up, and handing over to Cole Moore, Philbin and Svichla-Fekete for third in their race.

The individual events resumed with a PB and fourth place finish for Sophie Davies in the nine-years backstroke (25.31) and there was the same result for Jack Eastaff (26.12).

Khalili took a deserved second-place spot, improving nearly six seconds to clock 24.53 in the 10-years breaststroke, followed by Clements stepping in as replacement for the boys in his own PB of 25.06 for third.

Jones and Corner both set PBs for first and third in the 11-years fly (17.34 and 19.33) and Hopper showed her new confidence dropping 2.7 seconds for second in the 12-years 50m freestyle, with Svichla-Fekete replicating the second place outcome for the boys in 34.61.

The Franklin twins Lucy and Will swam PBs for a brace of third-place finishes in the nine-years breaststroke (29.35 and 26.36 respectively) and there were further PBs for Bridgeman and Przygrodzki (23.80 and 24.99) for the 10-years backstroke events.

Whitaker placed third in the 11-years 50m backstroke, improving by a second to 44.34, before Soulsby looked back to her best with a time of 39.26 for third in the 12-years 50m fly.

Philbin showed how smooth his fly has become, touching the pads in 37.74, although he was disqualified for moving at the start.

The relays began with the same team of girls (including Katie Hockney) and Corner being the over-age swimmer for the boys in the nine-years medleys, before then Van Deventer, Khalili, Bridgeman and Cutler came home in second in their freestyle relay in 1:16.76. There was a storming leg from Cutler, despite losing her goggles at the start of her anchor leg which won her the club’s award for swimmer of the night, allied to her other swims.

Partridge gained his swimmer of the night award in his first ever gala, swimming up uncomplainingly with Clements, Verstringhe (first gala) and Przygrodzki in their freesyle relay, before there was another win from the 12-years girls’ freestyle team of Soulsby, Maslen-Wollington, Hopper and Hockney in 1:02.34.

There was a second place finish for Philbin, Addati, Moore and Svichla-Fekete in their relay.

However, the most excitement of the night was reserved for the final event, the squadron relay. As the noise levels rose, Davies, Will Franklin, Cutler, Clements, Hockney, Addati, Lawson and Svichla-Fekete put clear water between themselves and the rest of the teams to take the race win in 2:15.07 to complete a great evening for the club.